The social amplification of risk framework typically represents consequential effects associated with high levels of media attention proceeding from an initial risk event. This study considers selective meat-eating as risk-related social behaviour that is evidently not initiated by a single event yet, nevertheless, is demonstrably subject to extensive and broad-based media coverage. Recent reported trends indicate a rise in so-called ‘flexitarianism’ and reducetarianism’ whereby people choose to restrict their consumption of meat in favour of a more plant-based diet. Through a content analysis of UK newspaper articles, we support claims from recent survey data that ‘environmental concerns’, ‘animal welfare issues’ and ‘health considerations’ are all strongly associated with decisions to eat less meat. Our study extends the explanatory scope of risk amplification by showing a more nuanced relationship between media coverage and risk-related behaviour in the case of selective meat-eating. Our findings have wider implications for risk communication and the role of the media in other contexts.
This work was funded by the Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme of the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) (as part of the Food, Health and Wellbeing Theme).
- social amplification risk
- meatless Monday
- meat-free Monday